There are many types of wild bird seed and finding the best kind can be difficult. The list below will help you understand what is available and what birds will be attracted to which kind.
First decide what kind of birds you’d like to see in your backyard. Then read the list to find out what that bird is attracted to. When it comes to bird seed there are some birds that like many different seeds. Knowing this variety will help narrow down what kind of seed you want to have in your feeders. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you may even find birds you never even knew were there.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed – This is considered the #1 choice for your feeder to bring the greatest variety of birds to your backyard. The oil gives birds the energy they need to live and the shell makes it easy for them to open, even for small birds. This type of seed is best in tube type feeders. The birds this could attract are Cardinals, Nuthatches, Finches and many more. If you are looking for only one seed to put in the feeder, try this.
Hulled Sunflower Seed – This is the same as Black Oil, but the shell has been removed. It is more expensive so you should make sure your feeder is squirrel proof. If you’re not sure how to do that, read our blog on squirrel proofing your feeder. The best thing about this seed is that there is no mess and all of it will be eaten. You’ll get the same birds as listed above.
Safflower – This is the favorite seed of the Northern Cardinal. House Finches and Mourning Doves will also feed on this type. The best part is that most squirrels will leave it alone and you can place it on a platform/hopper feeder. Cardinals can feed better from a tray feeder rather than one with a small perch.
Nyjer/Thistle Seed – This seed is a Finch favorite. Also loved by Goldfinches, Purple Finches and Mourning Doves. It’s a tiny black seed from India and Africa, available at most places that offer wild bird seed. It has a shell that will pile up on the ground. Commonly used in Canary mixes, it’s now common as a wild bird food source. Goldfinches are attracted more to this seen than sunflower seed. Pine Siskins also like nyjer seed. When using this, you will need a feeder with small ports.
Striped Sunflower – Even though most birds prefer the Black Oil Sunflower seed this a cheaper alternative. Place this away from your feeders to prevent squirrels and raccoons from getting at your regular feeders. This shell is harder than Black Oil, making it harder for smaller birds. Still, Bluejays, Cardinals, and some Woodpeckers will make use of it.
Cracked or Whole Kernel Corn – This could attract Eastern Bluebirds, Bluejays, Pheasants, and Ducks (if you have water). By using this throughout the year, you will be able to see birds that don’t visit your other feeders. It’s best to place this in platform feeders or scattered on the ground for turkeys, ducks and partridges. Be aware that other mammals could also visit, raccoons and rodents.
Mixes – These are packages of a mixture of different seeds that attract a variety of birds. Generally consisting of black oil sunflower, peanut, millet, striped sunflower, and others. Be aware that less desirable birds may drive the more desirable birds away when using this.
Suet – Even though this is not a bird seed, it attracts many birds. Suet is made from beef fat and is offered at most stores that sell bird seed. There are a wide variety of suets that you can get. Suet will have with bird seed, berries, and peanut butter mixed in with the suet. You can also make your own. Check out our craft videos for more info. Some of the birds that enjoy suet are: Black Capped Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthaches, and Wrens. Offer suet in a suet feeder, a special wire cage.